June 19, 1929 - Jan. 21, 2018
Little Ernest J. Hausmann was excited to wear long pants almost 80 years ago when he boarded a steamer that allowed him and his family to flee Germany for the United States.
"Mother had found out from a relative that boys my age in America wore long pants, whereas in Germany all the boys wore short pants," he told The Buffalo News last year. "My parents had a suit made for me with long pants, which I wore on the boat coming to America. It was a big thrill."
Only 9 and Jewish, he was not fully aware he and his family were fleeing Germany shortly after Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime unleashed Kristallnacht, "the Night of Broken Glass," in November 1938 that served notice of the coming Holocaust.
Dr. Hausmann, a longtime professor at University at Buffalo's School of Dental Medicine, died Sunday at his Amherst home. He was 88.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, he grew up in Queens and graduated from New York University. There he met his wife of 67 years, the former Britta Markham, who had also left Germany at the same age and for the same reasons.
He received his doctorate of medicine in dentistry from Harvard University and a doctorate in oral biology from the University of Rochester. He was named Distinguished Alumnus by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1991 for his work in the field of bone metabolism.
"He lived a varied life from that period of the Nazis' tyranny to the phenomenal life he led in America that allowed him so many opportunities," said Robert Hausmann, the youngest of two sons. "He was driven by his passion for dental research and other interests, and his intense devotion to his family."
Hausmann said his father was deeply concerned by widespread negative attitudes toward present-day immigrants also seeking to escape oppression by coming to the United States.
Dr. Hausmann was a professor in the UB School of Dental Medicine for 37 years, where his research focused on bone loss around teeth associated with periodontal disease. He was a well-respected authority on dental radiography and during his career published many seminal papers in the field.
Though he retired in 1996, Dr. Hausmann continued to work part time in the department on his research studies. He most recently served as chief scientific adviser for Imagination Software Corp. and was working on a patent with Dr. Ken Hoffman.
He also published 105 research papers.
Dr. Hausmann was known not only for his passion for his work but for his love for athletics, travel and classical music, and for learning and mastering new skills later in life.
He was an accomplished athlete and proud that he learned to swim and ski in his 50s. He also took up running later in life, and ran in numerous races both locally and nationally, most notably the New York City marathon several times. He ran in the Indianapolis half marathon with his daughter, Kathy.
A fervent fan of classical music, Dr. Hausmann regularly attended performances of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Chamber Music Society. His son Robert is a cellist with the BPO.
Dr. Hausmann also enjoyed hiking with his grandchildren, including hikes on Mount Marcy. An avid traveler, he explored Europe extensively with his wife and their four children. They also enjoyed visiting their daughter, Lori Papermaster, and her family in Jerusalem.
Dr. Hausmann felt it important to preserve the story of his family's escape from Nazism. His memoir, which he self-published in 2010, included his personal experiences and his own reflections on life. He returned to his hometown of Heidelberg multiple times, speaking in local high schools about the Holocaust.
He and his wife were part of a special feature section published April 23, 2017, in The Buffalo News entitled "The Survivors," documenting the experiences of Holocaust survivors.
In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, Peter and Robert; two daughters, Kathy and Lori Papermaster; and 13 grandchildren.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23 in Amherst Chapel Memorial Chapel, 281 Dodge Road, Getzville.